Saturday, 17 August 2019

lyman-alpha forest

Via the New Shelton Wet/Dry, we are introduced to an interesting hypothesis that might account for some of the mysterious nature of dark matter and dark energy (previously here, here and here) by placing its existence in the Cosmos prior to the Big Bang, the rapid expansion of the Universe from a dimensionless point understood to be the genesis of at least all baryonic matter and luminous energy.
If dark matter structures were present as phantom underpinnings—unassailable yet not without some pull—it could explain the distribution of galaxies, perhaps some of the universal constants, the imbalance between matter and anti-matter plus its conspicuous lack of directly detectable evidence as a remnant of the Big Bang (evidenced only in possibly the Higgs’ boson), in the same sense as microwave background radiation. What do you think? What does it mean that the familiar Universe might have had something to grow into?  A rarity in the domain of theoretical physics (except when it’s not), there may be observations that could confirm or deny this speculation.


back to school: an assortment of usual college campus landmarks not to miss

exosuit: engineering shorts to amplify power for walking and running

meanwhile, back at the agora: an animated short about Hyptia, the last known chief librarian of Alexandria’s repository of human scholarship, murdered by a mob of suspicious Christian monks

architektura sakralna: Poland experienced a post-war church building boom

jordfästning: from the delightfully macabre Art of Darkness, Swedish funeral candies  

mecspiquer: reflecting on a quarter of a century since the passage of the legislation to protect the French language  

Friday, 16 August 2019

relaciones geográficas

In order to have a better insight into the distant and vast domain that his conquistadors took by force, King Felipe II of Spain, Portugal, Naples and the Two Sicilies commissioned bureaucrats in the 1580s to produce a land survey through a fifty topic questionnaire to solicit descriptions of cities and settlements from the indigenous population.
Their responses came in the form of detailed manuscripts that told the history of their home towns and assigned by one question to visually describe their municipality, those polled answered with these fantastic maps and charts that captured geographical details as well as natural resources. Much more to explore with the intrepid adventurers at Atlas Obscura at the link above.


Via the inestimable Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to an interactive project from the New York Times that reaches back to August of the year 1619 to Point Comfort where the first Africans (from Angola) disembarked in the colony of Virginia in order to raze and reframe America’s founding myth and help understand, through the contributions of many journalist, that the country’s origin and counter-narrative are firmly rooted in and determined by enslaved labour.
All of America’s the societal dilemmas and asymmetries are profoundly and deeply informed by this awful legacy and disingenuous reform that still leaves many marginalised and seeks to preserve the privilege of others at any price, from mass incarceration, sugar over-consumption to the US’s broken healthcare system. We would like to think humanity, like many compatriots, as a whole has moved beyond such petty squabbles over skin colour and heritage but obviously that’s not the case and it’s very difficult to find solutions to improve problems that one does not think exists. The consequences and contributions of enslavement defines the character of the nation and coming to terms with the council of the past however estranged empowers one to affect real change for individuals and institutions.


The always engaging Kottke directs our attention to an online museum that documents and curates various social media and productivity platforms, operating systems and video games from their earliest forms (see also) until the present. Much more to explore and reminisce over at the links above.

seward’s folly

Though not a wholly original idea as most of the nihilistic non-policies of this government-by-disaster of the Trump regime are, via Boing Boing, reportedly the failed real estate magnate is interested in acquiring Greenland to exploit it for its natural resources and strategic location. With the catastrophic climate change which Trump does not believe in already arrived, the world’s largest island could be a rather shrewd investment. The Kingdom of Denmark has not yet responded to the proposal, nor Greenland’s fifty-six thousand residents.

Thursday, 15 August 2019


Declared complete a day earlier but six hundred thirty-two years later (though the project in terms of maintenance is unending) the cornerstone of the Cologne Cathedral was laid on this day in 1248 by Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden, medieval planners envisioning a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor and a pilgrimage destination housing the relics of the Magi, which Barbarossa had plundered from Milan, though since repatriated though the golden reliquaries remain. Inspired by the Gothic cathedral of Amiens and sustained across generations, Kölner Dom was the tallest man-made structure in the world upon completion in 1880 for four years until the Washington Monument was finished, rising just a few meters above though certainly not surpassing in stature.